Cimarrón obstensibly takes its name from the wild snow-fed river which begins there, in northeastern New Mexico, and flows 698 obstinate miles to the Arkansas River in Oklahoma, but cimarrón is also a Spanish word meaning wild, or willful. It describes an unbroken animal or a wild man, or wild woman (cimarróna). At one time it was applied to slaves who freed themselves (cimarrónes).
Charlie Morris saluted the first day of June, 1872 with a beer, although the sun had just recently risen over the nearby peaks. Joyce was still asleep upstairs. She and Charlie had been up late drinking, but he hadn’t been too tired to put Joyce to sleep with a smile. They had ridden down the Goodnight-Loving cattle trail from Raton to the St. James Hotel in Cimarrón three months ago. Joyce’s husband, Chunk Colbert, was a gambler, mean and vicious but seldom at home. Racing horses went well with his love of gambling, and his gun had often been used in anger. Which is why Charlie and Joyce had left town. They must have decided that a hundred miles was far enough away, or else passion simply overruled their common sense. Chunk found his wife missing when he returned one day, and he was able to find out where she had gone. On that same June morning that Charlie sat drinking a beer to clear his head, Chunk walked from the bright sunlight into the saloon in the St. James. When his eyes adjusted to the dimness, he saw Charlie Morris.
“Morris,” he said, in a voice that could stop a wild horse, “you got something that belongs to me.”
“What could that be?” Charlie asked, spilling beer on his fine grey vest.
“My wife!” Chunk said, and shot Charlie dead.
This was two years after Lucian Bonaparte Maxwell, son of an Irish emigrant from Dublin, sold most of his holdings in the largest individually owned piece of land in the United States, of which Cimarrón is a part, to three Englishman. The Maxwell Land Grant was originally obtained as a Mexican Land Grant by Charles Beaubien and Guadalupe Miranda, for assisting the Mexican government’s attempt to exterminate the Indians in its “Northern Province.” Maxwell married Beaubien’s thirteen-year-old daughter. Almost two million acres that had been stolen from the Ute, Apache, and Comanche eventually ended up in Maxwell’s hands.
In all its sordid history of gunfights, murder, and land wars, and after the railroads had come and gone, and the gold rushes were over, Cimarrón endured. The gold and coal are gone, although the timber industry and the Philmont Scout Ranch breathe life into the area. People still struggle to survive, and some still dream of the old days of greed and wealth.
In 1977 a new schemer came to Cimarrón. Bill Dufess came with a luxurious double-wide, and a lot of spending money. He was soft-spoken, and, as representative of a new industry coming to town, he came, he said, “to stay.”
Alicia, as mayor pro tem, ran the town while the mayor was busy logging in the mountains. The rest of the time she ran her beauty shop, cutting and perming and dyeing. She worried about paying off the trailer she lived and worked in. As she teased Margarita’s hair, she thought about how tired she was. It was demanding running the shop on her own, but at least she could support herself and her kids. She hadn’t just rolled over and died, or gone on welfare when her husband ran off with with that Albuquerque woman. She had borrowed some money and started her own business. She stopped what she was doing for a moment to clean her glasses, and brush sweaty hair out of her face.
“Margarita, are you going to the matanza at that Dufess fellow’s place?”
“I haven’t decided, but I hear there’s a lot of free beer.”
“Oh, and everyone’s invited, everyone around here.”
“That’s about a thousand people! Does he really have enough food for everyone?”
“Well, his company does seem to have a lot of money. That new double wide trailer of his sure cost a lot of money.”
“What about that dump his company wants to put in, Alicia? Do you think it’s a good idea?”
“I don’t know. Mayor Burns said he thought it was a good idea before he left for the timber harvest, but I’m not sure this guy Dufess is on the up-and-up.
“I hear there won’t be any smell, or anything. It’s not like a regular depósito.”
“That’s because it’s for residuos nucleares.”
“Oh my! You don’t think it will blow up?”
“Margarita! Really! Just because the hands on your old watch glow in the dark doesn’t mean they’re going to blow up, does it?
“Well, I suppose not, but what has that…”
“The hands glow because they’re radioactivo.”
“Oh. Then I suppose it’ll be alright.”
“Maybe. There. All done. Take a look.”
“Oh, eso es bonita, Alicia. It’s just beautiful.”
“Thanks. I try my best.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow, Alicia. Are you sure you don’t mind waiting for your money?”
“I’m sure. Go on. I’ve still got to close up.”
Alicia closed out the register and put the money in the bank bag. “I’d better not forget to take this tomorrow,” she reminded herself, “I don’t want that trailer payment to bounce.” She swept the floor and took the trash out to the garbage. “I wonder,” she thought, “what radioactive garbage looks like?”
Alicia had promised her kids that she’d take them to Santa Fe to see the Star Trek movie. She was more than a little curious herself, so she closed the shop early one slow afternoon. She’d seen some of the T.V. shows back in the sixties.
“And they’re just making a movie now?” her son had asked.
“Es verdad, mi jito. From before you were born to now, it’s been a long time, no?”
“It’s my whole lifetime. Can we have popcorn?”
“Sure you can, Roberto. Now, go and get your sister for me. We have to get going.”
“Roberto! If I wanted you to shout, I’d have done it myself. Now go and get her. Vamanos! We don’t want to be late.”
They drove in relative silence. Alicia had insisted that her kids bring along something to read, and they had contained their excitement fairly well, even though they didn’t get out of Cimarrón very often. The twisting, potholed road between there and Santa Fe distracted her attention from the red sun-burnt cliffs that poked into a blue porcelain sky.
As they neared the theater, Alicia could see people lined up all the way around the corner.
“Oh, no, kids, there’s a long line. Maybe we should have waited until it came to Taos.”
“That’s OK, Mom, we’ll get out and get the tickets. You go ahead and park the car. We’ll wait for you,” Roberto promised.
That kid, he’s something, Alicia thought as she walked back to the theater from a street three blocks away.
“Excuse me ma’am, would you sign our petition?” asked a balding man in torn blue jeans. He had a red bandanna tied in a tight ring around what was left of his long hair.
“One of those Taos hippies,” Alicia thought as he pushed a clipboard toward her. “I’m sorry, I don’t really have time now.”
“But it’s about nuclear waste, ma’am. Do you want them to bury nuclear waste in New Mexico? Do you want your kids to be exposed to radiation?”
“What? Where? Do you mean Cimarrón?”
“Uh, no ma’am. I’m talking about down in Carlsbad. The government plans to ship radioactive waste from all over the country, and the world, into New Mexico, and bury it in Carlsbad.”
“Listen, I really have to run. Is there a number I could call to find out more about this?”
“I think there’s a number on the petition. I don’t have any information myself, I’m just taking the petition around. Here, you can have one. There. There’s the number.”
The following week, Alicia called the number. It wasn’t a local number, it was in Albuquerque. “What the hell,” she decided, “maybe they have some good information.”
“STOP. This is Colin speaking.”
“Stop? Stop what?
“Stop the dump, that’s what. No, really it stands for Stop Threatening Our Planet. Could I help you?”
“Yes. Can you send me some information about nuclear waste?”
“Of course. Do you mean general information, or something technical?”
“Well, I suppose I need general information. There’s a company that’s planning to put a waste dump here and I need to know more about it. People have been coming into my beauty shop and asking me questions, and I don’t have the answers.”
“Are you calling from Carlsbad?”
“Oh, no. This is Alicia Seria, from Cimarrón. I’m the Mayor pro tem here.”
“The Mayor! Alicia, I’ll be glad to send you any information you need. Would you tell me more about this waste dump? This is the first I’ve heard of it.”
“Oh, good. I was afraid you were only concerned about Carlsbad.”
“No, not at all. We really don’t want radioactive waste traveling on New Mexico highways, or buried here.”
“From what I’ve seen of the roads around here, it wouldn’t be a good idea. Oh, by the way, I’m just the temporary mayor.”
Colin got all the information he could from Alicia. As soon as he hung up, he was back on the phone to alert the membership about this new problem. The next potluck meeting of STOP took place four days later. Charlie, one of the three coordinators, brushed bread crumbs out of his bushy red beard and called the meeting to order.
“Attention people. Most of us are finished eating, and we have some business to get to. Bring your drinks and deserts. Colin, you’re first on the agenda.” Nine people formed a ragged circle on the floor.
“Uh, well, as some of you know, we got a phone call from the mayor of Cimarrón. Apparently, a Texas company called Nuclear Futures wants to build a waste dump there.”
“Colin, I thought all the waste was supposed to go in one place?” asked Edith, the gray-headed professor’s wife.
“This is a private company, Edith. The Carlsbad site is a federal project. Nuclear Futures is planning a commercial dump. From what I, uh, understand, waste producers will pay them to accept their waste. And, listen to this, the waste will be in 55-gallon drums piled in shallow trenches and just covered over with dirt.”
“Wow. That’s pretty heavy,” said Ken, the cement factory unionist. “It sounds like another Love Canal in the making. What do the people in Cimarrón say about that?”
“Well, uh, the mayor, I mean, the acting mayor, told me that most people don’t know anything about the possible dangers. There’s this guy, Bill Dufess, who works for United Futures, who’s moved to Cimarrón. He says he’s planning to live there permanently, and he threw this big matanza last Saturday with all the food and beer people could want.”
“What does the Mayor say? Hey! what’s her name?” Charlie asked.
“What does she want?”
“She’s afraid that this Dufess character is snowing people with all that beer and barbecue. She’s worried about the dump and she thinks people are afraid to question it.”
“What can we do?” Charlie asked.
“She’s asked us if some people could come up there with some information, and maybe debate this guy. I’ve already talked to George at the Albuquerque Resource Center and they have some movies we could take up there, and George wants to debate this Bill Dufess guy.”
“Won’t there be hearings?” asked the feminist-anarchist.
“No, none at all, Paula. George told me that New Mexico is the only state in the nation without some form of permitting and licensing for, uh, landfills.”
“I want to go up and meet Alicia and Dufess. Does anyone want to go with me?” Charlie asked. Three hands shot up.
“OK, let’s get together after the meeting and make arrangements. We’ll be able to report on what’s happening up there by the next meeting.”
“Alicia, can you give me a trim? I want to get rid of all these split ends.”
“Be with you in just in second. What, Ana?”
“Mom, can I go over to Monica’s?”
“Did you finish your homework?”
“I finished it at school.”
“OK, jita, but don’t forget to be home in time for dinner.”
“I won’t. Bye, mom.”
“Now, let’s get to those split ends, Effie.”
“What do you think, Alicia? Do you think I should shorten it like yours?”
“Oh, no. Your hair’s much too pretty this way. I’ll just give you a trim, and a shampoo, and you’ll see, you’ll like it.”
“Thanks, Alicia. I trust you.”
“How’s your boy doing, Effie?”
“Oh, real good. I didn’t think he was ever going to pass the fifth grade, but he’s much better now. You know, they have to learn so much these days. Sometimes I don’t know how they manage at all.”
“Yeah, my Roberto knows more than I do, I think. Sometimes I look at his homework, and I can’t make any sense of it. By the way, Effie, what do you think of this waste dump Dufess’s company wants to put in here?”
“Well, Alicia, I hear you’re against it?”
“Oh, not really, not yet. I’m just not real sure. I’m afraid of what could happen if one of those trucks carrying the waste were to turn over. Remember when that propane truck crashed on the old highway? We almost had to evacuate the town then.
“What can you do, Alicia? If they want some old dump here, I don’t think there’s much we could do about it anyway.”
“Turn your head a little, Effie. And don’t you be so sure about that.”
“What are you up to, Alicia?”
“Well, Tony and Eloy were talking about having a big town meeting. I thought I might invite those people from Albuquerque to come up and debate Dufess publicly, and maybe show a movie or something like that.”
“People sure are talking about that dump since you started asking questions.”
“I just got so tired of hearing only one side of it. All those slide shows of Dufess’s. And all that beer and barbecue of his makes me think he’s trying to buy us, and I kind of wonder why. Come on over to the sink, so I can rinse your hair.”
“Can we hear a report from the people who went to Cimarrón? Colin?”
“Oh, I talk too much all the time. Why don’t we let Charlie tell you about it?
“OK, sure. We met at that guy Bill Dufess’s trailer. He had this real slick slide show about the dump, about how safe it would be, and how people would benefit. It was real convincing.”
“How many people were there?”
“Not very many, Paula. Most of the townspeople had seen the slides already. But Alicia was there, and this one guy who’s all for it, and there were a couple of people who just watched, and didn’t say anything.”
“So what was accomplished?”
“Not much, but Alicia did say that some people are planning a town meeting, and we’re invited to come and present our information.”
“That’s great Charlie! You know, since New Mexico is hosting the Desert Alliance meeting next month, do you think it would be alright to have the meeting in Cimarrón? That way we could maybe combine our meeting with the town meeting. It would be a real good way for the people in Cimarrón to find out what’s happening in Arizona, Nevada, and Colorado. And I think the Alliance members would like to see Cimarrón.”
“Paula! That’s a great idea. What does everyone else think?”
Everyone thought it was a great idea, so Charlie asked his lover, Rosa, if she would go too. She said no, she didn’t want to go, and that she had things to do that weekend. Charlie didn’t like that. He and Rosa hadn’t done much together lately. She had her writing and he had his STOP meetings. They both held the same opinions of nuclear waste, but Rosa had her own ideas about what was important, and that was editing an anti-nuclear newsletter. Charlie felt that the petition drive that had been going on for the past few months was too important to abandon, so they had found themselves alone at separate meetings. Well, I’ll just have to go by myself then, he decided. Damn! This isn’t how I thought it would be when I moved here. I was going to start a family, and Rosa and I were going to make the world a better place for them. And she still doesn’t want kids yet. Can’t say I blame her, I don’t make much money fixing sidewalks and block walls at the University. Charlie didn’t have too much time to talk to Rosa, and convince her to go. He was spending nearly every night at the STOP office trying to coordinate things for the meeting in Cimarrón. He thought about Joyce, in Nevada. She was a lot of fun to talk with at that first Alliance meeting in Colorado. Too bad we only talked. I’d better write to her.
As busy as Alicia was, she arranged most of it. She convinced the town council to let the Desert Alliance use the community center. “Some of those anti-nuclear kids could even sleep there. And Tom and Sheryl have offered a couple rooms at their motel. I hope those people in Albuquerque bring their projector. I’ve been telling people that we’re going to have movies. That should get ’em here.” She knew that the out-of-towners would bring their own food, but she had still convinced Margarita, Effie, and a few others to bring a dish for the town meeting.
Outside Alicia’s trailer, it was snowing. “They’d better bring warm clothes,” she thought. “I’ll get John at the store to donate some coffee and tea. Oh! And I’d better remember some sugar and milk too. This is exciting! I’ve never done anything like this before, but I’ll bet we can stop these Nuclear Futures people.”
Two carloads of people, armed with a movie projector, maps, leaflets, and pamphlets, left Albuquerque on a clear sunny morning for battle in Cimarrón. The first car left before dawn. Charlie drove the second car, which gave him an excuse to sleep a couple hours more. He didn’t talk much on the long drive up North, he was thinking about Joyce. He knew she was coming, and Rosa had insisted on staying home. From Joyce’s reply to his letter, Charlie felt that the possibility of sharing a bed or a sleeping bag with her were pretty good. It would help make this weekend more interesting, he thought. There’s probably no way we can stop that Nuclear Futures company. Shit. Two years we’ve been fighting that waste project in Carlsbad, and we’re no closer to stopping it. All those damn hearings are such a damned waste of time. We’ve got twenty thousand signatures on petitions, and all the polls show that the majority in the state are against it, and still the feds won’t listen. The Governor said he would stop it when he was running for office, but now the federal boys have made it a dump for military waste. National Security, my ass.
As Charlie pulled onto I-25, to head north, Alicia was already open for business, hoping to finish early so that she would be available to greet people and get things set up. She had an early appointment with Ruth Mondragon, so she turned the heat up to warm the front room beauty parlor. She had fed the kids, and they were already watching Saturday morning T.V. in her bedroom. With a cup of coffee in her hand, she sat down by the phone to call people and remind them about tomorrow’s meeting. She had managed to get five calls done when Ruth arrived.
“Buenos dias, Alicia!”
“Well, good morning to you too, Ruth. Would you like a cup of coffee?”
“I sure would. It’s cold out there.”
As she was finishing Ruth’s perm, the phone rang.
“Morning Alicia. Cold enough for you?”
“Hi Cicero, what’s up? I hope we won’t be getting any snow today?”
“No, not as far as I’ve heard. Reason I called was to let you know that there’s some people parked outside my store. I think they’re the people you’re expecting.”
“Oh my goodness. Are they here so early? Thanks, Cicero. I’ll see you tonight. Bye.”
Ruth started to get up. “What’s the matter, Alicia? Is something wrong?”
“No, don’t get up. But could you do me a favor, Ruth? Would you take this key with you when you leave and open up the hall? And tell people I’ll be by soon, and that I’ll be bringing coffee?”
“Si, claro! I’m as much against this crazy dump as you are.”
“Thanks, Ruth. Well, let’s get you finished. I didn’t know you felt that way, Ruth. Didn’t I see you laughing with Dufess at his barbecue?”
“O Alicia, I’ve never been one to turn down free food. But I’ll tell you one thing, I sure was surprised to see where they intend to dig those trenches.”
“Here, let’s rinse you off. Why’s that, Ruth?”
“Why, that area floods. It’s been a while, but I remember a time about twenty years ago when two whole feet of topsoil washed off of there and it made a mess it took weeks to clean up.”
“Is that a fact?”
“It sure is. And that viejo of mine told me that his abuelo used to have a house over there years before that, but it got washed away.”
“No kidding? His grandfather lost his house there?”
Charlie turned his collar up against the cold damp of a Cimarrón morning as he got out of the car, and asked Colin: “Where are we supposed to go?”
“I don’t know, exactly. There’s some cars over there by that store. Pull up close, let’s see if we know anyone.”
A foggy window was rolled down.
“Hi Jim, you beat us here. What’s happening?”
“Well, I don’t know. I’ve been here about thirty or forty minutes. Got a cup of coffee from the store here.”
“Anyone come with you?”
“Yeah, there’s three more of us from Colorado here.”
Another car drove up.
“Hey, I just came from the hall where the meeting will be. Someone unlocked the door, and she said that Alicia is bringing some hot chocolate and coffee, and we should meet her there.”
Charle helped Alicia start the coffee and hot water on a table by the door of the church hall.
“How are things going, Alicia?”
“Real good. If the weather doesn’t get too bad, I think we’ll have a good crowd tomorrow. A lot of people have promised to come.”
“Is Dufess coming?”
“Oh, yes, he said he’ll be here. And he’s bringing a film of his own, just for balance.”
“It’s alright, that was the only way the town council would approve. They thought it was only fair, since there’s going to be a debate.”
“Well, that makes sense. I suppose it’ll work out. We’ve got the projector. I’ll be showing the movies. Anything I can do?”
“No, not a thing. You go ahead and join people.”
“Charlie took a cup of chocolate and walked into the large hall. Leaning against the stage was a familiar figure. Actually, the figure was not as familiar as the face. It’s Joyce! “Hi Joyce,” he called. She didn’t look the same. I know it’s been six months since I’ve seen her, but still, either she’s gotten a lot fatter, or she’s pregnant, he thought. He crossed the hall and hugged her, gently.
“Joyce, it’s nice to see you here.”
“It’s nice to see you too.”
“No, not just that. I mean, I was thinking about you all the way up here, hoping you’d be here.”
“You know, I was thinking about you too.”
“Well, yeah, ever since that time we went to that meeting in Coloado.”
“I remember. We stayed up half the night talking.”
Joyce looked away amoment, then said, “I got turned on that night.”
“Well,” Charlie said, searching for words.
“Well, yourself. I’d want to talk to you when we get a chance. I didn’t come all the way from Nevada just for this meeting, you know.”
“You look different.”
“Well, yeah. I’m pregnant.”
“No shit. That surprises me.”
“Yeah, it was a surprise to us too. We hadn’t planned it. Harry always said he didn’t want to have children, and I thought about an abortion, but now that I’m pregnant, he seems to like the idea.”
“Uh, oh, here comes Harry, he follows me everywhere. I don’t know when, but we’ll talk. Harry, this is my contact in the Desert Alliance that I’ve told you about.”
“Glad to meet you, Charlie. Joyce has told me a lot about you.”
Charlie shook Harry’s hand. He was very thin, but quite strong. Must be a vegetarian, he thought. “About me?” he asked.
“About STOP, mostly, and about Albuquerque. You send her a lot of information about what’s going on around here. It’s a lot more than we’ve been able to do about underground testing in Nevada.”
“Maybe you should think about moving here, Harry.”
“That’s not a bad idea, maybe we should.”
“Now why did I say that?” Charlie wondered.
Later, when everyone had arrived, Alicia announced that there were rooms at the Blue Sky Motel that were available for some people, but the rest would have to stay in the hall, itself. Charlie opted for the hall. He wanted to stay where the most people were, and he had brought his sleeping bag. After a day-long meeting with the Desert Alliance members, he had packed up his paperwork and gone to bed while the others were drinking at the bar. He didn’t feel very sociable, and besides, he didn’t drink.
As he was dressing the next morning, Joyce found him alone in the back room where he and a few others had slept.
“I guess I overslept.”
“I’ll say, everyone is already up. They’re having breakfast.”
“Where did you stay last night?”
“Harry and I stayed at the motel. Ooh, that bed felt sooo good.”
“It’s nice to see you.”
“I’m glad I found you. I didn’t know if we would ever be able to be alone.” Joyce moved closer to Charlie, looking at him, watching his eyes.
“Me either, ” Charlie said, and ran his hands through Joyce’s long hair. His hands felt hot.
“Hmmm, maybe we don’t really need to talk,” Joyce said, pushing her head against Charlie’s hand. He kissed her lips, and then her neck. Joyce put her arms around him, and pressed against him.
“Mmm,” Charlie said.
“You said it,” Joyce answered while she took off her coat.
Charlie ran his hands over her nipples and around her breasts.
“Whew! It’s getting hot,” Joyce said, as she took off her flannel shirt. Charlie responded by removing his shirt.
“Maybe we’d better not waste any time,” Joyce suggested, “We don’t know when someone might come in.”
“Are you sure it’s OK? Joyce? We won’t,” pointing to her stomach, “bother that?”
“Oh, no. The doctor told me I can have sex, but Harry hasn’t wanted to since I started to show.”
Charlie stripped off the rest off his clothes, and helped Joyce off with her pants.
“Just be gentle, Charlie.”
He was. Joyce moaned softly as her body warmed to Charlie’s touch, and Charlie felt fire play across his skin. A little milk came from Joyce’s nipples. He liked that. They slipped sideways through time in the realm of pleasure, until the last gentle spasms subsided and they lay peacefully embraced.
“Well, that was nice,” Joyce said, slowly and huskily, “but we seem to have made of mess of someone’s sleeping bag.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Charlie laughed, “It belonged to Rosa’s ex husband.”
“We’d better get dressed. Do you want to go for a walk?”
“Sure. Let’s get out of here.”
Half a block away, they ran right into Harry.
“There you are. I’ve been wondering what happened to you two.”
“Oh, we’ve been walking around, looking at the town, and we got to talking,” Joyce answered lightly, smiling.
“Well, I’m glad you two got a chance to talk. Do you want to head over to the motel?”
“You know the owners, Tom and Sheryl?”
“Well, their son just got in. He’s the editor of a Texas paper. He’d like to talk to a few of us so he can write a story.”
“All right! Let’s go.”
Alicia was worried about the meeting. She kept calling people to remind them, but the snow that had fallen the night before was making it difficult for people to travel the old roads in the community that surrounded the town. Finally there were about forty people, and they had polished off most of the food, so she introduced the speakers to everyone, and then they watched the films. Afterwards she had each person, George, from the Albuquerque Resource Center, and Bill Dufess, from Nuclear Futures, give a presentation. A few people left, but Alicia spoke to each of them before they did. George talked about the dangers of radiation leaching away from the dump, and Dufess spoke of the economic benefits that Cimarrón would derive from the increased truck traffic. He was trying to drive home a point about the safety of the project when Ruth Mondragon interrupted him.
“What about the flooding, Dufess?
“Yeah, what about that?” someone else interjected.
He looked confused. “I don’t understand, what flooding?”
“Every time the river overflows, that strip of land is under water.”
“This is the first I’d heard of it. The land is dry, and we searched the records and didn’t find any evidence of flooding.”
“How far back did you go?” Ruth wanted to know.
“We searched back twenty years.”
“Well, about twenty, maybe twenty-five years ago, we had one hell of flood here,” Ruth’s husband added. “And that wasn’t the first one, how do you know that won’t happen again?”
“Yeah,” Margarita spoke up, “how do we know that radioactive junk won’t come floating through town some day?”
Dufess smiled. “I’ll certainly look into it. But, you needn’t worry, the waste will certainly not leak out of there.”
“We’ve heard that before,” Joyce added.
“You’re all worried about nothing,” came a new voice. “I think this here dump’s gonna be good for business.” It was Mr. Lambe, from the diner. “Why, most people around here support this thing. There’s only a few crybabies against it.”
“You just say that because you stand to make a few bucks, Max,” Ruth told him.
“What, what’s wrong with that?” Lambe shouted out. “We could all use the money.”
“But what if it’s not safe?” Alicia asked.
“Yeah, ” someone shouted from the back. A chorus of “Yeahs” followed.
“Now listen, everyone,” Dufess broke in. I can guarantee you this is safe. Not only that, but I’ve spoken with Mr. Lambe, and other members of the business community here, and everyone agrees that this would be a good thing for Cimarrón financially.”
“Maybe it would,” Tom Hilton said, “but its not a good idea.” Tom had moved to Cimarrón in 1959, trying to resurrect the old hotel. “That’s where the old town was,” he said, “That’s Cimarrón’s history over there. The Maxwell mansion was there. The Yellow Front Saloon. The Cimarrón News and Press, where Clay Allison roped the press and dragged it into the river. Hell, Kit Carson hung out there. Billy the Kid was a friend of Maxwell’s son. Wyatt and Morgan Earp met Doc Holliday there. There’s a lot of history there. I don’t think we should turn it into a dump.”
Alicia said, “I think we ought to start a petition, and find out how many people really want that dump here.”
“You got it!” Ruth, on her feet, yelled out.
Everyone wanted to help Alicia draft a petition for Cimarrón. George offered his ideas, and other people wanted to use STOP’s petition.
“Why can’t we just say, ‘We don’t want a nuclear waste dump in Cimarrón’?” Alicia wanted to know.
“Or anywhere else in New Mexico,” Ruth suggested.
“OK, that’s it,” Alicia agreed. “Now let’s get some copies made up.”
“We’ll do that,” Charlie offered. If you’ll write it down, I’ll take it with me, type it, and send you a bunch of copies.”
Pretty soon, Alicia a few others had taken the petition around to every door in Cimarrón. Charlie called from Albuquerque to find out how it was going, and if she needed any help.
“Thanks Charlie, but it’s going great. We’ve got over seven hundred signatures, and there’s a photographer from the Santa Fe paper who’s going to come by and take a picture of us with all the names.”
“Wow! That’s really great, Alicia.”
“I’ll send you a copy of the paper when we get it.”
Two months after the story appeared in the papers, Nuclear Futures cancelled their plans to build the first commercial nuclear garbage dump in New Mexico.
“Ruthie, did you hear that Bill Dufess is moving?”
“I’m not surprised.”
“And he said he wanted to live here, whether or not the dump went in.”
“Alicia, I think we ought to have a party, to celebrate.”
“Let’s do it tonight. I’ll supply Tequila.”
“And I’ll bring Tony and Eloy. You call Rita and Effie.”
Six months later, Alicia was elected Mayor.
Charlie got a letter from Joyce. She was in New Hampshire. She’d been arrested at a sit-in protesting the building of the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant. Although she’d been well treated, she’d lost her baby when she’d gotten out of jail. She and Harry were going to get married. They’d decided to try for another child, and thought it best to get married first. Charlie and Rosa were invited, but they didn’t go. He stayed home because Rosa didn’t want to go. She couldn’t. She had a date, although Charlie didn’t know it yet.
© 1989 – 2010 rtmulcahy
Black Jack Ketchum, Clay Allison, Pat Garrett, Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, Jesse James, Kit Carson, and Zane Grey all either visited, worked, lived – or, in some cases, died – in Cimarrón.